In “Wilson,” Woody Harrelson plays the cranky title character, a man who can’t help but be completely honest and forthright no matter the social situation.
It’s a verbose, tragicomic part that’s perfectly suited to the actor’s particular talents. Not everyone would respond to a character that, in the wrong hands, could come across as relentlessly insufferable, but Harrelson found a lot to admire in Daniel Clowes’ creation.
“I like his honesty,” says the 55-year-old. “Even though it gets him in trouble and sometimes it’s offensive. I love the way he says what he’s feeling without a filter.”
Harrelson qualifies his admiration for the tao of Wilson, who breaks free from the prison of his lonely life with his dog when he reconnects with his ex-wife (Laura Dern) and learns he has a teenage daughter (Isabella Amara), with a hypothetical.
“If someone says, ‘Do you like my dress,’ and they’re not in their house, they’re out in public, it’d be one thing if they were like a few feet from their closet, but otherwise, in that situation, I think it’s best to say, ‘Love it,’ even if you don’t,” which is the exact opposite of what Wilson would do. “But I think generally, outside of situations like that, it’s really important to be honest.”
Since he catapulted to fame on “Cheers,” Harrelson has done just about everything one can do in the business, starring in broad comedies (“Kingpin”), major franchises (“The Hunger Games” and more), renowned dramas (“The People vs. Larry Flynt”), buzz-y TV (“True Detective”), action movies opposite the likes of Wesley Snipes (“Money Train”) and a whole lot more.
If there’s one consistent thread across a lot of this work, though, it’s a gift for bringing a degree of humor and charm to even the most serious of projects.
That’s no coincidence, and the actor says that won’t change anytime soon, including in his work on the upcoming Han Solo spinoff movie.
“I’m open to anything but I prefer comedy for sure,” he says.